Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth
Keeping their fairytale season on track, the West Coast Eagles moved into fourth position on the Ladder with a decimation of arch rivals Essendon. The Bombers ran out of legs and players as the game wore on in very warm, late winter conditions in Perth.
It was tight throughout the early stages of the game. The Bombers showed good intensity at the ball and Patrick Ryder had the first goal on the board after a strong mark. Andrew Embley showed flashes of his early career form when he raced down the outer wing with three bounces and a straight kick to even the score. Quinten Lynch followed up with a booming 60 yard kick but before the ball was bounced to restart play in the center, an interchange infringement by Eagle Dean Cox allowed Ryder a second goal. A first quarter Bomber substitution saw Nathan Lovett-Murray come on for a concussed Andrew Welsh who took an accidental hip to the head. The Eagles kicked the next two goals before David Zaharakis scored for the Bombers on the siren. They trailed by nine points at the first break.
Heat was a factor in the game as players struggled to adapt to the warmer vernal temperature. Cox scored first for the Eagles but Stewart Crameri evened it up soon after. The game was being played in the middle of the ground and it was an arm wrestle with neither midfield putting its stamp on the outcome. Essendon kicked the next two goals, Ryder scored his third and Mark McVeigh put the Bombers in front once again. As the half wound down, Essendon took a slender lead of one point into the second half.
Third quarters have been West Coast’s Achilles heel this year but this time they came out with a renewed attack at the ball. With six inside 50 meter attacks to one in the early part of the quarter they peppered the goals but could not put the opposition away. Essendon was hitting targets regularly while the Eagles were kicking the ball out of bounds on the full. Their early supremacy was undone by some dreadful defensive kicking that resulted in a turnover and a Jobe Watson goal. Leroy Jetta snapped a brilliant goal from the pocket to give the Bombers some life but from this point on it became mostly one-way traffic. It was as if someone had flipped a switch and the Eagles started to run away with the game. Daniel Kerr was playing one of his best games for the year. His goal after recovering a poor bounce was the turning point. The Eagles kicked the next three goals and broke the game open, taking a commanding 25 point lead into the final quarter.
Mark LeCras got his second goal from some crafty work in the pocket. Essendon scored the next two goals with some fine attacking work through the middle. Having lost Welsh early, the Bombers were a player down and in the warm conditions it was telling. Josh Kennedy kicked his fourth goal and from then on it was party time for West Coast. Kerr wobbled one through from the 50 meter arc and Nic Naitanui made the highlights reel when he won the ball from a ruck contest and bounced through the forward line to score a fantastic major. Goals from Cox, Embley, LeCras and Lynch put the nails in the Essendon coffin. The Bombers were down a few players in rotations on the ground with Watson, Crameri and Welsh taking no further part in the game. Dustin Fletcher seemed to pull a hamstring late in the game to compound their problems. In the end the Eagles ran out 57 point winners over a forlorn Bombers outfit.
The Eagles moved up to fourth position on the Ladder while the Bombers were clinging to eighth place after all games were finalized. Essendon has not beaten the Eagles at Patersons Stadium since 2001 and should the vicissitudes of the Finals’ fixtures find them in the West again, their chances of winning look slim. West Coast may make history if they make the Top Four from their Wooden Spoon position of last year.
For David Woodley’s photos of the game, go to: http://www.afana.com/drupal5/category/image_galleries/2011_season/2011_season_photo_essays/round_22_west_coast_v_essendon/14-1915
Scoreboard West Coast: 4.3 6.6 12.12 20.14 (134) Essendon: 3.0 7.1 9.5 11.11 (77) Best Players West Coast: Kerr, Priddis, Shuey, Kennedy, Selwood Essendon: Stanton, Crameri, Watson, Heppell, Ryder
Article last changed on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - 3:53 PM EDT